Gal Alberman scored an 90th minute winner as Israel stunned France yesterday with a 3-2 win that took Guy Levi's charges to the top of UEFA's Under-21 Championship qualifying Group 4.
Israel went into the game brimming with confidence after last week's 3-1 demolition of Ireland, and the talk before the game was of another multi-goal win. Only some poor defense kept Levi's talented band of youngsters from achieving that.
Moshe Ohayon gave Israel an eleventh-minute lead with a shot from the edge of the area after the French made a hash of clearing Shai Aboutbol's lob. Six minutes later, Jeremi Mathieu headed the visitors level after a terrible goalkeeping error by Tom Almadon. Israel's defense was shaken, and a minute later Ronald Zubar put France ahead with a long range effort that Almadon was powerless to stop.
Another minute went by and Israel was back on level terms, as it was French goalkeeper Jeremi Gavanon turn to make a blunder. Fabien Barthez's stand-in at Marseille fumbled a shot from Shlomi Arbeitman, and from then on Israel swept the field in search of the winner which came on 90 minutes, when Gal Alberman headed in Liran Cohen's free-kick.
"They are an excellent side with players from the top French division, which makes our achievement even greater," said Israel coach Guy Levi.
His counterpart Rene Girard said, "Israel was excellent. It seems as if both Israel and France will fight all the way to win the group."
Maccabi Tel Aviv defensive midfielder Liran Cohen was picked out by the French professional staff for his performance and assistant coach Patrique Govlin said, "I don't understand what he is doing in Israel. He should be on one of the big teams in Europe."
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